Ranger Up Fitness: Supplement Guide
8 March 2007
The Definitive and Comprehensive Guide to Supplements.
Nice title. But this guide is neither definitive nor comprehensive. Actually, some of the information I have might be outdated or flat out wrong. So chances are there’s some bullshit in this article. But since I’m talking about supplements, and that industry is pretty much 90% bullshit, I figured it was appropriate.
I know people want to hear about workouts and training, as well as diet and nutrition. More of that’s coming. But actually a huge number of the questions I’ve been getting have been about various supplements – what works, what doesn’t, who should use it, etc.
This makes sense. This shit is expensive. And it’s almost impossible to get unbiased information on any of these supplements, because everybody is either selling something, using something and wants to believe it works, or pissed because they wasted money on something. If you’re like most people, you probably don’t want to spend $300 every time you walk into a damn GNC. And you’re probably sick of walking into a supplement store, asking a simple question about creatine or protein, and having sales reps descend on you in a swarm of brightly colored polo shirts and khaki shorts trying to sell you fucking multivitamins and NO2 products.
So what is all this shit? Here’s the list:
Name: Whey protein/Casein/Soy protein/etc.
What it is: Uh, protein.
What it’s supposed to do: Improve recovery, make your muscles bigger, help you get cut, etc.
What it actually does: All these things. If your diet is geared to it. Protein isn’t really a supplement, it’s a food. All the kinds of protein out there are basically just different arrangements of the same things… amino acids, plain and simple. Do you need a protein powder? No. But actually, they can be pretty cheap these days if you find a good deal online, and if you’re cutting down your calories but want to keep your protein intake up, or on the flip side, want some extra calories in your diet without adding a lot of carbs and fat, protein powders are a great way to do it. Egg whites are good too, but can get expensive and aren’t all that convenient. Tuna has a lot of sodium and tastes like hell. So for convenience, powders can’t really be beat. But that’s all they are, convenient food. Nothing more, nothing less.
What it does not do: Anything that a steak wouldn’t.
Name: Creatine Monohydrate/ Creatine Ethyl Ester/ Creatine Malate
What it is: A naturally occurring substance put in powder form. Creatine is used by the body to store energy (phosphate donor to resynthesize ATP, if anybody gives a shit).
What it’s supposed to do: Increase muscle strength, increase power, speed recovery
What it actually does: Actually, pretty much all these things, but not by itself. Creatine will, in essence, let you do another rep or two before you get exhausted. ATP is, at the end of the day, what your muscle uses for fuel. Think of every molecule of ATP as a molecule of gas. When you run out, you stop. Your body resynthesizes this pretty quickly, which is why a quick rest is all you need to be able to move again after a heavy set of squats or quick sprint. Creatine is basically a reserve tank. Your body has a small amount of creatine phosphate in each cell that basically re-forms ATP as you deplete it. Think about it, though… a bigger gas tank won’t make a car faster, but it’ll let it go longer. So creatine will let you do one or two more reps, or sprint up that hill at the end of a long run, etc. But if you don’t put in that extra effort, you won’t get anything out of it. You’ll gain weight off it right away, true, but that’s mostly so-called “water weight”, that’s actually extra water in the muscle cells used to buffer the extra creatine phosphate (again, if anyone gives a shit).
What it does not do: Make you any stronger, improve cardio endurance (endurance exercise has other factors that make you fail), bloat you up, cause cancer. Creatine CAN cause some bloat in your stomach.. monohydrate is tough to digest. If you have a tough time with this, try ethyl ester or one of the other kinds. If you don’t, then stick to monohydrate. Much cheaper. Oh, and you don’t need to load creatine, and you don’t need to cycle it, and you don’t “lose your gains coming off” unless you were a lazy bitch while you were on it. If you want to know the reasons behind any of these things, shoot me an e-mail.
Name: Branched Chain Amino Acids/Glutamine/other amino acid supplements.
What it is: Amino acids. Building blocks of protein. For all other questions, see the section on protein. Because that’s all this shit is, and unless you’re dealing with a wasting illness and trying to come up with some sort of perfect tube-feeding diet, or just lack the ability to digest protein (in which case you’re fucked anyway), you don’t need this stuff.
Name: Nitrous Oxide secreting products (No-xplode, etc.)
What it is: A combination of arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, citrulline malate, creatine, caffeine, etc.
What it’s supposed to do: Increase pumps! Increase strength! Improve lactic acid clearance! Improve time to exhaustion! Increase blood flow! Give you rock-hard erections! Change the oil in your car!
What it actually does: Jack shit.
What it does not do: Anything it’s supposed to do.
But Alex, you’re wrong, I tried this shit and it worked really well! I felt stronger, more alert, had better workouts, etc. etc. Yeah, read the ingredients. You’ll notice lots of caffeine, creatine, and electrolytes. Chug some red bull, have a scoop of creatine monohydrate, and bring a Gatorade with you to the gym. And if you want rock-hard erections…can’t help you. That’s your own issue, keep that shit to yourself. Buy some Cialis from India or something.
Honestly, this is a product that could have some limited usefulness for endurance athletes. Citrulline Malate in particular has been shown to have some useful effects on runners. But really, I’m not going to spend $35.00 for a tub of theory. And you can buy citrulline on its own for about a tenth the price if you want to try it.
Name: Muscle Milk, NLarge 2, Nitro-Tech, etc.
What it is: Meal replacement/protein powders
What it’s supposed to do: Varies.
What it actually does: These are all just meal replacements. Honestly, read the labels. The point of including these is simple: There are a lot of meal replacements and protein powders out there that advertise “special” benefits. Really, they’re all the same shit. Some have a lot of sugar or maltodextrin, others don’t. Some have MCT (medium chain triglycerides; fats burned quickly for energy), others do not. Take a look at all these, find one that tastes good, has a good balance of protein and carbs, maybe some fat, then find the best price possible. Don’t waste time on the hype.
And these are just the basics. More information will be coming on prohormones, stimulants (ephedrine, caffeine, etc.).
I’m still taking e-mails and answering as many as I can. If I don’t respond personally within a couple of days, you can pretty much guarantee I’m working your question into an article. So keep sending stuff my way, and make sure to tell me if you don’t want your name printed.